There is a feeling of esperanza, or hope and gratitude as the new year starts. Some wonderful things have finally happened to the immigrant family with the new immigration reform, the first one in so many years. A road to peace of mind and finding a place in this society has opened to five million of them, who have lived in vicissitude for so long. Of course not all of them will be sheltered in this protective arm from the dangers of separation and total destruction of their lives through deportation (once again, the first: their initial departure) and, for some, it has come just too late. Nevertheless, many are now protected and what could be a more powerful healing gift than that protection for the immigrant family.
The gratitude is not only for a government that allows these changes to become possible, in spite of great opposition, but it goes beyond. It includes the tenacious education and creation of awareness of the general public by many courageous individuals who advocated, youth that marched and came out of the shadows, risking great dangers and wonderful reporters who with great sensitivity presented the real stories of these families again and again in the media. Finally, fear, mistrust and the resulting feelings of even hate became overcome by those of compassion and openness of heart and mind.
And now, as the new year gets rolling, the news of the administration’s guidelines in an open letter to the nations educators that highlight the civil rights of students learning English as a second language. Under the law and in compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974, they are guaranteed targeted help and, as every other child in the United States, access to a high quality public education. The programs have to be “educationally sound in theory and effective in practice.” This not only protects their rights, but helps ensure well prepared adults that will become more successful as citizens of this country. In that way the future of this country as a whole is also ensured. Of course, this will be successful only as the public education system provides training, research and guidance to those smaller districts struggling with a population that is new to them. And perhaps if those districts who have years of accumulated experience in this matter share their knowledge and successes with them. And lastly, if the universities step in with their support in terms of research and resulting guidelines.
So, with hope and gratitude I am extending my best wishes for a great 2015 to all the readers and to the immigrants families in this country!